I finished another small project on the van inspired by boywonder and this thread:
I added two solar panels and a roof cargo box to my PH top and after adjusting the springs I was still having a hard time lifting it. Conveniently around that time boywonder posted in the thread linked above about using gas springs as "helper" springs to lift the top. I also didn't realize that most manual tops have helper springs at all.
I didn't quite get as fancy and sophisticated as boywonder did with his triple spring setup, and opted for just a single one. McMaster parts listed below:
9416K22 - 50lb gas spring, 28" extended length, 15.2" compressed length
6465K63 - Eyelet end fitting for gas springs, M8
9416K29 - Heavy duty mounting bracket for gas springs
The length of the spring fit perfectly so I could mount the bracket in the rail channel at the very back and have it fully extended when the top was up. The travel allows the gas spring to get just shy of full compression when it is closed as well.
I drilled two holes and used 1/4-20 bolts to mount the brackets in the channels and then attached the gas spring to the bracket using the threaded eyelet fitting. I then fed the 1/4-20 bolt that attached the lifting bar to the current spring mechanism through the eyelet on the distal end of the gas spring. I used rachet straps to de-tension the springs and 2x4s to hold up the pop top while I did the install.
The difference is significant, and I can now lift the top up by myself. I initially bought and installed 150lb springs with the same dimensions and they were far too stiff. The top was stuck popped for a few nights until the lighter springs arrived haha. As I add weight to the top now though I can increase the gas springs which come in increments of 25lbs. Also, now that the threaded eyelets are attached to the U-bar bolts the swap out is pretty straight forward.
Thanks for the inspiration boywonder!